OKLAHOMA CITY — Caron Butler has been in Oklahoma City less than a month. When he signed on as a free agent March 1, he had already played for six other teams in his career.
Despite that, Butler said his transition has been seamless because he always envisioned himself playing for a team like the Thunder. His 23-point performance Monday in Oklahoma City’s 117-96 victory over Denver at the Chesapeake Energy Arena is exactly how he saw himself fitting in.
“I’m a fan of the game of basketball,” Butler said. “So over the years, I’ve watched the top-tier teams — obviously, Oklahoma being one of them. Youunder stand the style of play of all the contenders. You always imagine yourself in the system. Like, if I was there I would do this or I would do that. I just tried to plug myself in.”
The injury-plagued Nuggets (32-39) were never really in contention the entire night.
Without the services of several key contributors, they did not have the horses to keep up with a Thunder (52-18) squad fighting for the best record in the NBA.
Even though it was without Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City led by 17 points going into the fourth quarter. Coach Scott Brooks let his bench finish the game.
Kevin Durant scored 27 points to lead six Thunder players in double-figure
scoring. He’s now scored at least 25 points in 35 consecutive games and is five away from tying Michael Jordan’s all-time record since the NBA merger in 1976. Durant also had eight assists and shot 10 for 21 from the field.
“He’s an unselfish superstar,” Butler said of Durant. “Probably one of the most unselfish superstars I’ve ever seen to ever play the game. I’ve played with a lot of them. From Kobe (Bryant) to Dwyane Wade to Dirk, Gilbert Arenas in his prime. And I haven’t seen a guy like him who can score pretty much at will, but such a willing passer and facilitator.”